Our parish has a newly ordained priest as the parochial vicar, and it has been a delight to watch him work his way through the Mass, carefully finding his spot in the lectionary and looking wide eyed as he forgets the final words of the send off.
Because he is less familiar with the eucharistic prayers than our seasoned senior pastor, he takes particular care to say the words properly.
As he spoke the words of consecration, “This is my body” I was listening more intently than usual, and it struck me how much I wanted to consume the host. I wanted Jesus to be part of me as he promised he would be.
Humans are natural consumers. As babies it’s all about eating. It’s the baby’s survival instinct to make it known that he is in need of nourishment.
The Feed Goes On…
This desire continues on, and we chuckle as kids gobble Halloween candy and Christmas cookies. Put a pizza in front of a teenager and before you can turn around, it vanishes. As adults we still consume. You can name your own food or drink obsession. As I knelt in Mass a prayer formed in my mind, “Let our desire to consume lead us to consume the body and blood of Christ.”
Ultimately, the desire for Christ is the root of why we desire anything. The Christ-sized hole in our hearts won’t be satisfied by anything else but him, although we spend much time and energy consuming other things to see if they fill the hole.
In ancient times, people were more tuned in to the idea that to get something worthwhile, a considerable amount of time, energy, and sacrifice went into it.
In order to have a roasted goat for dinner, it took years of raising a herd of goats first.
To have bread meant planting, harvesting, grinding, and baking.
Is It Bad to Be a Consumer…Or Was It Intended?
For us it’s as easy as a drive to the store to come home with sacks of food. It’s very easy to consume, but rarely do we stop and consider why we want to eat. What is the natural desire in us that points us to a supernatural desire?
Could it be that our natural desire to consume is the training ground for spiritual consumption?
Taking our innate desire to consume food, which God has built into us, and placing that desire into the realm of the supernatural, we can understand why we should want to come back again and again to eat the body and blood of Jesus.
It’s a continual desire and a continual feeding.
We can use our natural desire for food to help us focus on our need to desire spiritual food. Next time you are hungry, ask yourself, do I need this as much as I need Jesus?
Channel Your Hunger
Jesus also spoke to this issue while he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness to turn stones into bread because he was so hungry. Jesus’ reply is a familiar phrase to us:
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).
We in turn can say, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but upon the true bread that came down from heaven, Jesus Christ.”
I’m not trying to come up with a new diet scheme, I’m just advocating that we take a cue from our natural desire to eat and pass it over to our supernatural side as we desire to partake in Jesus Christ.
Let’s be ravenous to receive him.
Let’s be filled with anticipation as we walk toward the altar at Mass.
Let’s savor his goodness in our lives.
Let us kneel with thankful and satisfied heart and go out into the world to share with others how they too can come to this table to be fed.
This article was originally published on The Great Adventure Blog on September 24, 2014.
Images sourced from Pexels and Wikipedia.
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About Emily Cavins
Emily received her bachelor of arts degree in classical and Near Eastern archaeology from the University of Minnesota, and is a tour leader of annual pilgrimages to Israel and other Bible-related destinations. She is the developer of the Great Adventure Kids Bible study resources, and co-author of The Great Adventure Storybook. She co-authored the Walking Toward Eternity Bible Study Series, Part One (Daring to Walk the Walk)and Two (Engaging the Struggles of Your Heart) with her husband, Jeff. She is also the author of Lily of the Mohawks: The Story of St. Kateri, and Catholic Family Night, a series of lessons covering all three liturgical reading cycles with one lesson per week throughout the entire year. Emily lives in Minnesota with Jeff, her husband of over thirty years.
Thank you for this insightful view of looking with such true longing for the Eucharistic meal….I have for a long time now seen the words of Jesus, ” One does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God…” as looking at the Word of God…Scripture….and longing for it in the same way you have described the Eucharist…now I can totally see that longing can be for both the Word as it is being proclaimed; and then coming in culmination to us through the Liturgy of the Eucharist…Thank you again, Emily….
What a poignant phrase, ‘Channel your hunger’. When people speak of hunger so many of us think of our temporal bodies. I know, I am one that automatically thinks that way. With your discourse I found that I had been forgetting about my spiritual hunger! What I enjoy about these snippets of spiritual material is that I gain some exquisite “aha” moments in an otherwise regular routine that I encounter daily. Thank you, Emily.
As a worker of the soil that feeds many, our farm grows sugarcane, soybeans and sometimes a few acres of sweetcorn that is shared with the neighbors, All we know is harvest what ever we harvest it will feed many. We are very blessed even when we have a hard harvest because of the weather. Farming is a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and we are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. This farm is of generations of combined farms as previous generations of children have decided to moved to jobs that are 8-5 hour day, 5 days a week. We have seen many new want to be farmers who have tried to start farming with all new equipment and put themselves in heavy debt and saw no way to meet payments to their banks. As we watched these new farmers from gowning under and have often them help to bring in their harvest, but one can only do this for so long. The one thing that I find about these farmers, (not to but blame on them for this) is that they don’t have any relationship with God. God is the biggest part of our day as we met in the morning and pray for God to keep us safe throughout the day, because working with the large equipment we use can get very dangerous if one is not paying attention to the job you are doing. Many of the people who work for us have been with us have been part to the family for more that 25 years and are more like family. Everything that goes into the farm is an investment to each and everyone coming the end of harvest time. The more efficient we work throughout the year, the bigger the bonus is shared in the end. The harvest table is like the alter and the sacrifice that we all understand as all our families are Catholic and help each other out when someone in the family is in need. During hurricane season here in South Louisiana, we run into a type of automatic mode for our older neighbors by boarding their windows and inviting them into other homes which are more stable to stand the storm. After the storm, we are into another mode as we help with clean up each others yards to get power restored to the most vulnerable people with generators. The equipment that we have designed, is able to pick up the sugarcane that is flatten by the strong winds of the hurricane. Every day we pray, count our blessing, no matter how bad the day was the day before, today we work for the goal of a bountiful harvest that we can all share in the end. The people on our farm understand very well the job do: the one that feed many. How far what we grow and the people it touches or feeds is mind boggling. Many years ago we had asked our parish priest if it was possible to have a late evening mass for the farmers how during harvest time had not was able to attend mass till about that time on particular time. With the number of people who responded to the petition, an over welling amount asking to have this mass. This mass became know as the farmers family mass and is the has become the most attended mass in the parish.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
I focused on your comment at the beginning: “he takes particular care to say the words properly.” How often do we say the “routine” prayers so blandly not really paying attention to the meaning. Years ago I realized whenever I recited the Our Father at church with the congregation I almost did not realize what I was saying – I changed to make sure I emphasized each phrase carefully and depending, I guess on my need at the time, I found I was emphasizing the phrases differently each time. Your new priest’s emphasis seems to have renewed your focus on receiving Christ. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
I have, just today, received this post and I am overwhelmed with your writing, Emily. You have said in your words what I feel in my heart. I don’t know how anyone can live without the Eucharist. Thank you!
God’s Plan of Salvation
It’s my intention to present God’s Plan of Salvation in a clear and understandable manner. Understanding and believing in His plan is the most important undertaking any of us will ever face – it’s truly a matter of life and death!
Step 1: We Have All Sinned.
God created ALL things. He created Adam and Eve to have fellowship with Him. Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden caused all future generations to be born with sin. This means we are born with a sin nature which causes us to think, feel, and act in a manner outside of God’s perfect plan. This sin results in us being separated from God. The bible says:
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
We can not go any further until we come to terms with this first step – we are ALL sinners. No matter how good we think we are, we must see our life as falling short of the perfection required by God. No one is “good enough” to go to Heaven.
Step 2: Our Sin Deserves Eternal Death.
We must understand and believe the consequences of being a sinner. The bible says:
The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
Wages refers to something we have earned – and we have earned death! This death is not referring to a physical death – we’re all going to physically die. The wages of our sin is a spiritual death – an eternal separation from God in a place commonly referred to as Hell. Before we can enter the gates of Heaven, we must have our sin removed – we must be made clean.
Step 3: We Must Desire To Be Clean – We Must Repent.
There is a basic assumption in God’s Plan – we must desire to enter Heaven! If we believe we have sin in our life which keeps us out of God’s presence, and if we truly desire to enter Heaven, we will desire to cleanse our life of sin. This desire to turn from our sin is called repentance.
But unless you repent, you too will all perish. (Luke 13:5)
Repent, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. (Acts 3:19)
He does not want anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Many times, we will not have the ability or strength to actually leave the sin which has consumed us – this will come only as we turn our hearts toward God and accept the gift of Jesus Christ.
Step 4: We Can Not Make Ourselves Clean.
There is only one way to be made clean – that process is called Salvation. Salvation is a gift from God, freely given to all who ask – it can never be earned!
By grace you have been saved through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not as a result of works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Grace means “unmerited favor”. It means we are granted favor when we have done nothing to deserve such favor. We cannot rid our life of sin and all our “goodness” cannot bring us one step closer to Heaven.
This can be a difficult step. Many of us are so consumed with pride that it’s difficult to ask for help – but God requires us to humbly say: “I know I can never get there through my own effort. I’m lost without help to cleanse me of my sins.”
At this point, if our belief is real, we will be crying out to God to show us how to be made clean. We understand and believe we’re a sinner who deserves death. We desire to turn away from our sin but realize that nothing of our own effort can keep us from an eternal Hell. Fortunately, God has a wonderful plan already laid out to move us from an eternal death to an eternal life with Him.
Step 5: Jesus Christ is The Sacrifice Which Makes Us Clean.
We must understand and believe that God has provided a way for our sins (all our sins) to be completely washed away – a way for us to be made pure and clean in His sight. This way of forgiveness is through faith, or belief, in His Son Jesus.
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
This verse is probably the most recognized verse in the whole Bible. But the all important phrase, “believes in Him”, is not made very clear. Our sin can only be forgiven through a proper sacrifice. Jesus Christ died and rose again in order to be the sacrifice for those who will believe.
God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. (Romans 3:25)
God loved us and gave us His Son even though we did nothing to deserve His love.
God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, provides us the opportunity to be washed clean – the opportunity to have our sin debt cancelled – the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven. Jesus is the Savior who allows us into Heaven – He’s the only way!
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.” (John 14:6)
Step 6: Receive Jesus Christ As Savior.
If we understand and believe the above steps, we’re ready. If we believe our sinful condition (Step 1), recognize we deserve an eternal Hell (Step 2), desire to turn from our sin and be made clean (Step 3), understand that we are unable to make ourselves clean (Step 4), and recognize the Sacrifice of Jesus as our only means of Eternal Life (Step 5), then we now must open the door of our heart and ask Him inside.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock – if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him.” (Revelation 3:20)
As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
If you truly understand and believe, I urge you to ask Jesus into your life – do not delay!
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. (Hebrews 3:15).
Tell Him you believe in His sacrifice as complete forgiveness for your sins and ask Him to be your Savior. If you have come this far, do not let another moment go by!! There’s no special prayer required. Simply tell Him you believe and ask Him to save you. Pray a prayer something like this:
Dear God, I know that I am a sinner who deserves an eternal death. I desire to turn from my sin, but I know that on my own, I can never achieve a sinless life. Left on my own I will be forever separated from You. I believe that Jesus Christ died and rose again as an eternal sacrifice for my sin. I accept the gift of Jesus and ask Him into my life as my Savior. Amen.
If this was prayed with a sincere heart, you are from this very moment, His Child. You have been “born again” (John 3:3), made a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and will one day enter into the Kingdom of God (Heaven).
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will want to begin your new life. You will want to know how to walk with Him, talk with Him, worship Him, and learn how to have His peace in your life. This isn’t a requirement for Salvation. But a true understanding of the gift of Salvation naturally leads to a desire to fellowship and walk closer with your Savior. It leads to a heart of thanksgiving and a desire to praise Him. I encourage you to begin your Christian walk today!
Always remember that Salvation is based on Jesus plus nothing! Salvation is a gift from God and requires no further action on our part. However, now begins the process of living a life which brings God glory and honor – a life pleasing to God – a life of being His disciple.
A good beginning point is to find other believers to fellowship with. A good group of believers is usually found in a Bible believing, Salvation preaching church. The Bible tells of the importance of fellowship:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
One of the first commandments we are given as believers is to be baptized. Jesus directed this in what is called The Great Commission.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Baptism and obedience to His commands begins the process of discipleship: “Make disciples of all nations.” Baptism is an outward sign of our inward change and commitment. If you have found a good church, they should be more than happy to talk with you about baptism.
Next, begin to talk to God in prayer. There are many good books and studies on prayer, but all God really desires is for us to talk with Him on a regular basis. Set aside some time which is quiet and free of distractions. You don’t need to speak out loud but you may if you wish. Thank God for who He is and for what He’s done – and for what He’s going to do in your life. Ask Him to set your life in order and to give you direction and the strength to live a life which pleases Him. Then talk with Him about anything else which is on your heart.
Finally, begin to learn about God through the study of His Word (the Bible). I strongly recommend a consistent daily reading plan. The plan may be as simple as opening the Bible to a random page and reading each day, or it could be a systematic plan which takes you through the entire Bible in a year. Whatever plan you develop, work toward consistent daily reading. You will be rewarded with wonderful insights into God’s plan and will truly learn to love His Word.
Welcome to God’s Family!